Jerry Zgoda missed the entire Kevin Garnett era, but he's back covering the Timberwolves after working the beat for their first four seasons two decades ago. In between, he covered a bit of everything: Gopher men's and women's basketball and NCAA athletics, golf, outdoor recreation, sports media and a little Vikings and Twins.
The Wolves opener is one day away and coach Rick Adelman still hasn’t decided – or isn’t willing, yet, to share – who his starting small forward will be.
With such a long break between the final preseason game and Wednesday’s opener with Orlando, the subject of the starter at the position has become a daily give-and-take between Adelman and the media. The one thing that has remained constant is Adelman’s insistence that it doesn’t necessarily matter who starts as much as how the position fits into the team’s rotations.
“We’re looking at the whole thing,” Adelman said. “It’s what rotation are you going to use throughout the game?’’
As much as he would like a set starting five, and as much as he’d like to have Corey Brewer coming off the bench, Adelman is likely committed to adjusting his starting lineup game by game depending on the matchup. So the player who starts Wednesday as the team’s small forward might not start again Friday.
In other items:
--Count J.J. Barea is a certified fan of the Gophers men’s basketball team. Barea was a senior at Northeastern University during the 2005-06 season. One of the assistants on the coaching staff was Richard Pitino, who was just two years older than Barea. “He was so young, and I was a senior in college, so he couldn’t say nothing to me,” Barea joked. Pitino, the first-year coach of the Gophers, asked Barea to come over and talk to his team. And Barea said he’d be attending a few Gophers games this season.
It’s a small world. Barea played for Richard Pitino and Wolves rookie Gorgui Dieng played for Pitino’s father, Rick.
--On Dec. 11, in the Wolves’ home game with Philadelphia, Adelman will become the second most tenured coach in franchise history behind Flip Saunders. Adelman, whose 55 victories are already second most in team history, has coached in 142 games, 22 fewer than Bill Musselman and Kurt Rambis, who both coached the team in 164 games.
That’s about it for now. Jerry will be with the team starting with Wednesday morning’s shootaround
When Chase Budinger reinjured his knee right before training camp, the Wolves brass said they had plenty of other options that wouldn't require them to add anyone from the outside.
Three weeks later, that apparently has changed.
After practice Wednesday, Rick Adelman made it clear he and Flip Saunders are looking at all options, whether it's signing a free agent or making a trade, to get some more help on the wing.
"We're looking at all players we have, not just guys here," Adelman said. "Flip's constantly talking to people around the league. We're evaluating everything. I think it's something that's a process you go through and you make that decision sometime next week. Not just this group, but what else is going on around the league and how can we improve our team."
Look for the Wolves to explore trades for available players such as Philadelphia's Evan Turner and consider free agents while also scouring the waiver wire to see who might be out there as teams determine their final rosters here in the next week or so.
Veteran free agents out there include Rip Hamilton, Marquis Daniels, Stephen Jackson, Mickael Pietrus, and DeShawn Stevenson.
Raja Bell also is out there after having not played at all last season in a dispute with Utah and Josh Howard and Leandro Barbosa each is trying to comeback from ACL surgeries as well.
Hamilton has a connection with Flip and Howard was with the Wolves early last season and contributing when he tore his ACL.
"I think we need to keep looking at our wings and see who can play," Adelman said. "(Budinger's injury) left us shorthanded. Where do we need the depth at? We talk about it all the time."
Adelman said he doesn't expect the team to make any cuts from its 18-man camp roster before Sunday's game against Boston in Montreal but suggested some could be forthcoming after that with two preseason games remaining next week at Philadelphia and Detroit.
Kevin Martin came back to practice today after a week away even though his Achilles tendon still is sore.
He returned along with his teammates who hadn't practiced since Saturday's listless loss to the Raptors at Target Center because there's important work to be done with five uninterrupted practices this week before the team's final three preseason games.
Here's video of Martin himself talking after practice here.
And here's video of my latest Wolves Daily with a recap from today's long practice at Target Center, something of a return to training-camp practices.
Look here on the Strib site later this evening for a story on Martin written for Wednesday's paper.
As J.J. Barea predicted last night that it would, that flagrant foul type 2 he received for throwing himself into Miami's Ray Allen got downgraded to a flagrant foul type 1 today by the NBA.
He got an automatic ejection when the officials reviewed what he called a "little bump" on Allen after Allen drove on him, extended an arm shiver and Barea staggered backward, as he has been known to do, without a foul called.
"The NBA did a good job looking at it, making sure," Barea said after practice Tuesday morning. "It wasn' t that bad."
He missed the game's final eight minutes after being ejected.
In that time, the Heat turned a six-point lead into a 15-point bulge, thanks in part to two free throws for Barea's flagrant foul and another free throw after Rick Adelman got a technical for protesting the officials' decision.
Barea left after a 1-for-11 shooting night.
"I wasn't that mad," he joked. "The way I was shooting it, I was like, `Get me out of here.' They did me a favor."
Said Adelman: "I expected it. What (Golden State's) Jarrett Jack did in a game a week ago was far worse than that. I expected that to happen. It doesn't change the course of the game last night, which is an unfortunate thing. At least they did change it."
Adelman also said this after practice today.
"You notice he wore his sleeveless shirt today to show off his muscles. Maybe he's looking for a new career."
One other thing from practice:
* Both Andrei Kirilenko (strained calf) and Nikola Pekovic (abdomnial strain) will be held out of all three games this week -- at least through Sunday's gmae against Dallas -- to let their injuries heal before they're re-evaluated on Monday.
Adelman has started Mickael Gelabale at Kirilenko's small-forward spot and Greg Stiemsma at Pekovic's center spot the last two games, but he played Dante Cunningham and Derrick Williams together as his forwards a lot Monday against the Heat, so that's another way he could go.
The NBA trading deadline came and went and the Wolves stood pat.
Not surprising, really, given the team's injury situation and its position in the standings. A short-term-fix didn't make any sense, with the playoffs almost certainly out of reach.
And, clearly, president of basketball operations David Kahn didn't see a deal that would help the team long-term.
So that means the Wolves will head to Oklahoma City with the same team that beat Philadelphia Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, Wolves coach Rick Adelman missed practice to accompany his wife to a medical appointment. Assistant coach Terry Porter said he didn't know whether Adelman would be on the team charter to Oklahoma City. I will update the blog when I know. If he is not, he will fly commercial to Oklahoma City tomorrow. Either way, he's expected to be on the bench coaching for tomorrow's game.
Jerry will be covering that game. So he'll be blogging tomorrow. Have a good afternoon.
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